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what happens when care homes stop giving antipsychotics to elderly people with dementia?

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In June 2015, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement released the results of a pan-Canadian collaborative project aimed at reducing the use of antipsychotic medication in long-term care facilities for the elderly.

The project achieved astonishing results, which I documented here. Shortly after the results were released, I interviewed Kaye Phillips, Senior Director at the CFHI, and leader of the highly successful project. During that interview I asked her a simple question; she responded with a clear evidence-based answer.

More information on antipsychotics.

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9 Comments

  1. Michele DeSocio on

    Susan thanks for sharing this interview. Overuse of antipsychotics in NH’s on dementia PTs. is unacceptable! Here is the US Medicare penalizes facilities for using antipsychotics. They also lose a rating star on medicare’s NH compare site. Antipsychotics are necessary for some in certain circumstances but not on a regular basis for dementia patients. Looking forward to more of the series.

  2. I’d really like to read more about this. We were involved in delivering training to residential and nursing homes in Cornwall, UK in the reduction of the use of anti-psychotics and anecdotally (from observation) the outcomes for those with dementia were huge. The replacement of anti-psychotics with responsive, empathetic and meaningful connections made all the difference and the staff were so keen to learn, particularly after seeing such changes in the people they were caring for. Great stuff!

  3. Marilyn Brewer on

    When you come and look after my husband 24/7 when he was throwing things, cursing and screaming constantly, then yo can talk to me about not having an anti-psychotic The difference was like night and day, it rturned my husband to the gentle laid back person he was and made it possible for me to keep him at hoe. Nursing home workers have shifts and can leave and go home to a normal life!!.

    • Marilyn, thanks for your comment. It may well be that your husband was/is psychotic and therefore benefited from being prescribed antipsychotics. Did he ever get a diagnosis of psychosis? Does he have a diagnosis of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type? What is his diagnosis exactly? The problem is when people who are NOT Diagnosed with psychosis are prescribed antipsychotics for reasons of convenience, cost reduction or simply because people have no idea how to deal with them

      I have a couple of additional questions: When your husband first began to throw things, curse, and scream constantly, who did you go to for help? Social worker? Hospital? Doctor? And if any or all of the above, how did they respond to you initially? What did they suggest that you do to address the throwing, cursing, and screaming?

  4. Ann Marie Lasinski on

    Did you replace the use of the drugs with more attention to residents, increased meaningful activity, etc?

    • Anne-Marie, good question. This pan-Canadian collaborative project comprised an educational component prior to implementation, ongoing support for the facility teams during the project, and yes, nonpharmacological alternatives. As with everything, when you take something away, you have to replace it with something else.

      I will be posting more excerpts from this interview as well as the complete interview over the next little while. Please stay tuned and subscribe to get notification of new articles in the series. Thanks so much! Susan

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